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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tuitama’s last chance is now

    During Willie Tuitama’s tenure as the UA football team’s quarterback, he has been a lot of different things.

    He’s been the cause of more hype at Arizona than any time in recent memory, a signal caller with a strong and potent arm, and above all, the reason many Wildcat fans still have hope in the program.

    Entering his last season as Arizona’s starting quarterback, however, there is one thing Tuitama no longer is – “”The Future.””

    “”This is my last year, and you know it is kind of weird when you realize and it just kind of hits you that you don’t have any time left,”” Tuitama said. “”I am working as hard as I ever have. I just have to make sure that I am ready to go each game. Right now I feel like I am doing the best I ever have with the offense.””

    If that’s the case, then Arizona could be looking at the most productive year, offensively, the program has ever seen.

    After all, if there is one thing that is better than being labeled as ‘The Future,’ it is being a seasoned and proven veteran that has already established himself as one of the better quarterbacks in program history.

    Just like Tuitama has.

    Last season showed what Tuitama was capable of, given the quarterback threw for 3,683 yards and 28 touchdowns. It was merely a foreshadowing of what’s to come this season.

    While those numbers are attractive enough standing alone, Tuitama broke 10 schools records last season, including total touchdown passes in a single season, most yards in a single season, and most completions in a game.

    “”(Tuitama) has been coming along real good. He’s the pistol-starter of our offense,”” said fellow senior Mike Thomas, who serves as one of the team’s most dangerous weapons at wide receiver. “”Without (Tuitama) and the o-line, we wouldn’t have anything.””

    Though Tuitama’s goals are naturally to exceed what he has already accomplished, as difficult as that may be, the bottom line is that this year is different.

    He has no next year to use as his crutch. It’s now or never for the quarterback, and for Tuitama, that may not be easy to accept.

    “”This is it for us,”” Tuitama said. “”Me, Mike (Thomas), and Ronnie (Palmer) roomed together at camp and we were kind of talking and saying, ‘This is it, really.’ There is no way around it, we just have to go out there and do what we do.

    “”Pretty much, that is the only difference,”” Tuitama added. “”Now that it is our last year we finally thought about it, where in the years past you don’t think about (it as) your only chance. We know this is all we have.””

    As Tuitama enters his final season at Arizona, it’s never too early to think about the future. That’s where freshman Matt Scott comes in.

    Scott enters his freshman season as one of the premier recruits in his class. And why not?

    Scott, a Corona (Calif.) Centennial High School star who was a finalist in 2007 for the Joe Montana Award, given annually to the nation’s best high school quarterback, threw for over 2,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000 in his senior season, amassing 32 total touchdowns.

    Simply electric.

    “”I am feeling pretty good. I am learning something new every day and I am starting to feel a lot more comfortable,”” Scott said. “”I think learning all the formations and learning all the different plays was the biggest transition from high school to college. We had three formations at my high school and (Arizona) has about 30, so it was pretty hard to pick up.

    “”It is really nice in this offense because when the pocket breaks down I can scramble and find an open man or run,”” Scott added. “”I can’t really tell what is going to happen. Anything can happen, but hopefully next year I will get the starting spot and we can make things happen.””

    Now Scott, who has won the backup duties behind Tuitama, brings something to Arizona that the Wildcats haven’t had for some time: a dual-threat quarterback who can hurt opposing defenses both through the air and on the ground.

    Even with his athleticism, however, Scott has had his ups and downs during Arizona’s fall camp.

    “”His athleticism is what he relies on now and he is still learning,”” said Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. “”(Scott) can make plays from nothing. He keeps plays alive and that is his greatest strength right now and we don’t want to take that away.

    “”He will continue to get better as we continue to move forward he gets more reps. I really like what he is doing. … You are going to have bad days, that is just what is going to happen as a young quarterback. Trying to put it all together is very difficult to do, but he just needs to keep working at it.””

    While Scott will inevitably make mistakes caused by inexperience, he may be thrown into action as early as Saturday’s season opener against Idaho.

    Throughout fall camp Arizona has been working Scott in a zone-read type offense in preparation for possibly tossing the freshman into the mix in certain situations to keep the opposing defenses off guard.

    The package would resemble what Tim Tebow did for Florida in 2006, as Scott would be used in special situations where running could be used to Arizona’s advantage.

    Scott has worked mostly in the zone-read offensive scheme while Tuitama has stayed within the more typical game plan Arizona has drawn up within the spread offense.

    “”He is our backup now. He can play in the first game or play the whole season,”” Stoops said of Scott. “”We have to make sure we have a package that he can handle and go out and execute. … He is learning our whole package and he has done awfully well. We have thrown everything at him, he just has to keep repping it.

    “”He adds a dimension at quarterback that is very difficult to defend,”” Stoops added. “”He is just a wildcard back there and can make a lot of plays with his feet and that is always a good thing. If things break down and you don’t see things properly, he can still make plays with his feet.””

    While it is clear that Tuitama is the go-to guy, the he and Scott have been working together in order to bring out as much success this season at quarterback as possible.

    After all, Tuitama remembers what it’s like to be “”The Future.””

    “”He is good. He has a lot of talent,”” Tuitama said of Scott. “”He is fast, he can throw the ball in there, and right now we are trying to teach him the offense and make sure he goes through his reads correctly. Once he learns the offense, he is going to be really good.

    “”This year we are going to be dangerous at the quarterback position,”” Tuitama added. “”Look out.””

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